2000: Hansie Cronje admits to match-fixing
The unmasking of Hansie Cronje marked the end of cricket's jolly, even deluded, innocence - both because of the nature of the offence and the identity of the offender. Cronje was a national captain of enviable standing, the prototypical hard-but-fair, principled, devout, all-round competitor. He was exposed as the ultimate con artist, the betting mafia's perfect partner, ready to manipulate the scripts behind scorecards. These extremes of his persona contained the game's essential truths, its well-disguised lies and the distance it had travelled in the last few decades of the 20th century.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise owner Vijay Mallya arrives for the IPL auction, Bangalore, January 8, 2011
The IPL: possibly the single biggest change in the game since the invention of international cricket © AFP
With Cronje came the deadening awareness that cricket's ethos could be easily corrupted by its best practitioners; that players from all over the world, not merely from the shadowy Orient, could be primed to participate in a world of faux cricket; that the simplest of temptations - starting with friendly free dinners, a wad of cash and, ridiculously, tragically, a leather jacket - could lure respected pros into a dragnet of organised crime. Through his acts and, as importantly, his confession, Cronje became living proof that an old, much-loved game had been poisoned at its very roots. Cricket remains sullied by the cynicism. SHARDA UGRA
From Wisden 2001: Notes by the Editor (Graeme Wright)...
Cronje's worst crime was not against cricket - accepting the bookies' bribes or trying to fix matches - but against morality and decency. It was in the way he ensnared the two most vulnerable members of his team, Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams. Cronje's white team-mates could afford to send him on his joking way with a rejection; he was just the captain, one of the boys. For Gibbs and Williams, however, even in the rarefied atmosphere of the new South Africa, Cronje was the white man in charge. It takes more than a rainbow for generations of social conditioning and economic deprivation to be washed away.
... and A Game in Shame, by Mihir Bose
Cricket corruption, like taxes and poverty, may always be with us. But after cricket's annus horribilis of 2000 we can, for the first time, understand how a combination of players' greed, dreadful impotence and infighting by cricket administrators, and a radical shift in cricketing power from England to the Indian subcontinent helped create cricket's darkest chapter.